SAPD takes another look at alternative transportation

Cab drivers: Companies not following rules

By Stephanie Serna - Reporter

Fiesta is just around the corner and some alternative transportation companies were hoping to take off soon, by providing the community more options to find a safe ride home.

However, at a Public Safety Committee meeting on Wednesday, there was some backlash from cab drivers, who said the new companies are not in compliance with the city ordinance Chief William McManus has ordered all ride share companies not in compliance with the city ordinance to stop operations.

"The nature of the complaints were that the transportation networking companies that were operating in the city were in violation of the city's ordinance," said McManus.

Dozens of cab drivers spoke out against the new alternative transportation companies, like Lyft.

"Get an operating permit, like the men and women in San Antonio have to do to operate their cabs," said John Bouloubasis, president of Yellow Cab. "Follow the rules and regulations. We want an even playing field."

A couple of companies boasting the latest in alternative transportation had kicked off services a few weeks ago.

The app-based company, Lyft, allows riders to use their smartphones to locate a driver nearby in order to get a ride.

Representatives of Lyft and Uber want the city to take a closer look, saying they do go through a screening process, arguably tougher than what cab drivers go through.

"They've done a background check on me," said Jackie Arnette, a Lyft driver and adjunct professor. "They've checked my car. I talked to several people from the company and they don't just pick everyone. They want a certain type of person that will identify with the city, understands the city, will talk to drivers and that  will be friendly." 

"I hope the city of San Antonio, the San Antonio Police Department, and the Department of Transportation, can re-examine the city ordinance that prohibits safe reliable, donation based companies from operating," said Thea Setterbo. with the Leadership Organization of Professionals.

The Transportation Advisory board will hear back from the San Antonio Police Department about the issue in May, after the department meets with industry leaders and stakeholders.

In the meantime, McManus said they will continue to enforce the current ordinance.

However, Lyft drivers at the meeting said they plan on continuing to operate and that they believe their company will stand behind them.

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